So Warwick orders his men to fire all night at locations where he thinks Edward’s men are, but they entirely miss them, firing over the Yorkists heads.
April 14 Battle of Barnet. Easter Sunday. For the Lancastrians, Sir John de Vere, thirteenth Earl of Oxford, commands the right battle; Sir John Neville, Marquis of Montagu, commands the center battle; Sir Henry Holland, second Duke of Exeter, commands the left battle; and Sir Richard de Neville, Earl of Warwick, commands the reserve. For the Yorkists, Sir William, Baron Hastings, commands the left battle; Edward IV and his brother, Sir George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence, command the center battle; and Edward’s other brother, Sir Richard Plantagenet, Duke of Gloucester, commands the right battle. The opposing armies seem evenly matched, although the Lancastrian army is the larger. Estimates per side range from 7,000 to 30,000 men each. The Yorkist army may be 12,000 to 14,000, or so, with the Lancastrian army somewhat larger. Perhaps the total on the field is 30,000.
The battle is joined in a thick fog, as soon as it’s light enough to see the other side. Edward sounds the trumpets, and leads his men in the charge. The battle lines overlap, with Oxford’s right wing of the Lancastrian army, flanking Sir William Baron Hastings forces. In the process, Oxford’s men are able to outflank Hasting’s battle, rout his men, and chase them off of the field. Meanwhile, at the other end of the battle, Gloucester’s men are flanking the Lancastrian line. They too are causing that end of the Lancastrian line to collapse and fold up on itself.
Oxford’s men do not return immediately to the battle, but instead pillage some of the King’s baggage train. During their absence, the two battle lines pivot counterclockwise, due to the collapse of each side’s left, and the flanking movement of the right. If Oxford’s men had returned to the battle field immediately, they would have been able to flank Edward’s center battle, causing it to collapse. Then the fortunes of the House of York might have ended that day. However, as Oxford’s booty-laiden men are returning to the field of battle, they are now approaching in the rear of their own center battle. They surprise their comrades, and are mistaken for Yorkists (the fog is still thick, and the personal banners are similar, the Oxford star being mistaken for Edward’s sun-in-splendor). They are fired upon by their own side – an error that costs the battle. Crying “treason, treason”, Oxford’s men retreat, and the remainder of the Lancastrian army is consequently severely defeated. The entire battle lasts between two and three hours.
Edward is said to have fought as fiercely as any two men. His personal bodyguard, being some of the finest soldiers in the realm, play a significant role in the victory. Sir John Neville, Marquis Montagu, fights bravely to the end, and dies on the field. Sir Richard de Neville, Earl of Warwick, makes it to a nearby horse and tries to flee, but he is caught and killed. (Richard’s and John’s bodies will be shown to the public for two days, to lay to rest attempts to claim they still lived, then they will be sent to be buried at Bisham’s Abbey, the Salisbury crypt.) Sir John de Vere, Earl of Oxford, does get to his mount and gets away safely, making for Scotland. Sir Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter, fights with notable courage and resolution. He is severely wounded, and left for dead. He lies upon the field from seven o’clock in the morning to four o’clock in the afternoon. He is then found naked and moved to the house of one of his servants (Ruthland) and attended to by a surgeon. (Next Exeter will be carried to sanctuary at Westminster. He will be later taken by the Yorkists and held prisoner in the Tower of London for four years, and then released to join Edward IV’s expedition to France.)
Among the Yorkists: Edward IV; Sir Richard Plantagenet, Duke of Gloucester; Sir George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence; Sir Henry Bourchier, Earl of Essex; Sir William Viscount Bourchier; Sir Humphrey Bourchier, fifth Baron Cromwell; Sir Humphrey Bourchier (son of Baron Berners); William Fiennes, second Baron Saye & Sele; Sir William, Baron Hastings; Sir John, Baron Howard; his son, Thomas Howard (who is severely wounded); Sir Henry Percy, fourth Earl of Northumberland (possibly?); Sir Thomas, Baron Stanley; Sir William Stanley; Sir Anthony Wydville, second Earl Rivers (who is wounded).
Among the Lancastrians: Sir Richard de Neville, Earl of Warwick; Sir John Neville, Marquis of Montagu; Sir Henry Holland, second Duke of Exeter; Sir John de Vere, thirteenth Earl of Oxford; Sir John Paston (and others of the Paston family)
Yorkists killed: Sir Humphrey Bourchier, fifth Baron Cromwell; Sir Humphrey Bourchier (son of Baron Berners); William Fiennes, second Baron Saye & Sele.
Lancastrians killed: Sir Richard de Neville, Earl of Warwick; Sir John Neville, Marquis of Montagu.
April 14 The Battle of Barnet is fought so early in the morning, and is over so soon, that Edward IV is able to return to London the same day, and go to St. Paul’s to give thanks. Henry VI, accompanied by George Neville, Archbishop of York, is sent back to the Tower.
April 14 In the afternoon, Lady Margaret d’Anjou and her son, Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales, land at Weymouth. Their intention is to come to the support of Sir Richard de Neville, Earl of Warwick, but they arrive too late. (Delays in planning and the requisitioning of supplies, the mustering troops, and the gathering ships, compounded by adverse winds, put them weeks behind schedule. If they had arrived two weeks earlier, or even a week earlier and joined up with Warwick, they could possibly have put an end to the House of York.)
April 15 Lady Margaret and the Prince immediately ride to Exeter, where at Cerne Abbey they are met by Sir Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, Sir John Beaufort, Earl of Dorset, Sir John de Courtenay, sixth Earl of Devon (the uncle of Sir Thomas Courtenay, fifth Earl of Devon), Sir Hugh Courtenay (a cousin of the sixth Earl), and Sir John Arundel – the latter two having raised significant forces from Devon and Cornwall. Hearing of the defeat at Barnet, Lady Margaret d’Anjou prefers to immediately depart back to France and save her son from certain defeat, but the Lancastrian following convinces her that they will prevail. Determined to avenge the defeat at the Battle of Barnet, they march north towards Wales where they expect to gain more supporters.
April 15 It is likely that the wounded Sir Anthony Wydville, second Earl Rivers, returns with Edward to London, or soon thereafter, and decides to convalesce there. (Thus he will miss the Battle of Tewkesbury, but will be in London to help defend it against Thomas (the Bastard) Neville, so-called Baron Fauconberg.)
April 16 Edward IV learns of the landing of Lady Margaret d’Anjou and her son, Prince Edward. Meanwhile, he has the sick and wounded of Barnet attended to. He begins to muster a new army to fight against Margaret, as he has already released the army that fought at Barnet.
April 19 Edward IV signs a pardon for George Neville, Archbishop of York, but leaves him in the Tower. He then leaves London, heading for Windsor Castle, where he will set up his headquarters.
April 20 - 23 Edward waits to see which way Lady Margaret will commit herself to, before making his own move. Depending upon how strong she presently is, she will either make directly for London, through Salisbury and Reading, or instead will divert towards Wales and Cheshire, where she can expect to add to her strength. Edward gathers fresh troops, and makes use of the Tower armory to replace lost and damaged weapons. He also adds the Tower’s artillery to those captured from Warwick.